Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Back Tryin' (Bactrian) Again

Today my Greco-Bactrians regrouped and took the field again as the Chinese pushed farther West. The scenario this week was Reinforcements Off Table  from Scenarios for Wargames. Ron has loaded a list of scenarios into his PC with a random selector and as so often happens. the scenario rolled up seemed to carry on from the last one with the Bactrians trying to gather their forces to hold back the invader.

The  rules were once again a hex based adaptation of Basic Impetus. These are starting to come together nicely. After the last game, we decided to let go of the partial discipline rule which we had lifted from full impetus. The added complexity seemed to have slowed the game without really adding anything, actually for me, it detracted from it, making the more powerful units even more powerful. The game today using BI straight up, (apart from the hexes) seems to have confirmed this as a smart move.

We have also refined out "U"s (measurement units) to hexes conversion. In essence each hex is 5 "units". After some trial and error we have ended up rounding movement so that heavy infantry and missile troops move 1 hex and pretty well all others move 2 hexes with the skirmishers and light cavalry being much more mobile due to their ability to move in any direction. Javelins and slings have a 1 hex range, 2 hexes is close bow range and 4 hexes long bow range.

Units must face the corner of a hex and a straight move can be into either of the hexes to the front (these also being the ZOC) with the 2nd move bringing the unit into line (that is left then right or right then left). Two moves to the left would be considered an incline with requisite penalties. A wheel is one 60 degree rotation.

The variable moves have been a bug bear but we finally got them sorted out today. Taking the principle of needing to move more than 2.5 units to cross into the next hex and applying it to the charge bonus and retreat/pursuit moves, we calculated that infantry needed to roll 5 or 6 (halved to 2.5 or 3 as per the rules)  to move an extra hex while cavalry only needed to roll 3. However, for retreats after melee, we needed to know not only where the units end up but whether or not the retreater had broken contact. This meant comparing the the infantry 1/2 die to the cavalry full one. This is not difficult math but we found it bothersome, not to mention we kept forgetting the 1/2 so we ended up allowing the infantry a full die and cavalry 2 dice with both looking for a 5 or better to move an extra hex. This is not an accurate translation of the odds but its close enough, easy and intuitive.

Doing away with the Discipline value meant that the points values of the Beta and published lists became irrelevant. The full lists have more options than the Basic ones so we are using the guide lines to convert the Beta lists to Multi-Basic Impetus lists. The guidelines are for a single BI army but we are now playing  Multi Basic Impetus  so we need double sized armies. What we are now doing is drawing up double armies from the lists including just the options and troops that we have the troops for (or intended to paint shortly) this  will be our "campaign" roster. From this we will draw scenarios/TT Teasers at 1 unit per scenario unit or gun. If we don't have enough of an appropriate troop type in our list then we may substitute something we do have (eg if a scenario calls for 3 heavy infantry units Parthians may field horse archers or cataphracts or skirmishers ).  Not perfect but easy and it seems to give about the right size of game for us, usually in between 8 to 16 units.

I wish I had remembered  to take pictures today, other than the quick cell snap above. It was an interesting game with some gallant charges, some devastating shooting (not by me), some clever generalship and some solid generalship. There were also an amazing number of 5's rolled for reinforcements. (For those not familiar with the scenario, and unit rolling 5 or 6 is lost). Ron was nice enough to let the lost units roll again after a delay. 1/2 of the defaulters including my King rolled 5 again!  I smell a revolt in the air.

If you refer to the picture at the top of the page you will see my army hiding out on the open steppe, tucked down behind a low rise. Ron's army laid out with 6 units of infantry flanked by light cavalry and supported by 2 heavy chariots which were able to pass through. Four of these units are double units with crossbows in the rear and halbardiers in front. I had hoped that Ron would advance on a broad front, straight up the road with light cavalry on the flanks, and had deployed light troops on my far left and an elephant, pike block and cataphracts on my far right. I left the middle unoccupied, relying on reserves or on flanking and breaking his army. It almost worked, I came close to breaking his right hand cavalry but the dice refused to do me any special favours and eventually it was my light infantry that had the worst of it. Late in the game some of my heavy and light cavalry showed up here and finally broke his cavalry but took damage and were then shot to pieces  by massed crossbows before they could exploit.

On the far side, an early arrival of heavy cavalry drove back his lights and began to turn his flank. As his infantry topped the rise I sprang my trap and came forward with elephant, pikes and cataphract. I didn't have the speed to hit him in 1 move from hiding but I did manage to move last. If I had won the toss and moved first on the next move I might well have been able to catch him but the gamble didn't pay and he had just time to readjust his line. The ensuing fight was close and could have gone either way. If his chariots had broken, my heavy cavalry and elephant would have been let loose behind his line and I might well have carried the day but it was not to be and a hail of fire from the chariots broke up my attacks and then routed my infantry and elephant. At least my heavy cavalry survived to retreat off the table and fight again!

Call up more levies! We need to rebuild!


  1. Moving forward well and having fun too- excellent!

  2. Ross Mac,

    Sounds like you were having great fun! A nait-biter to the finish by all accounts.

    I look forward to reading more in the very near future.

    All the best,


  3. Bob, Trad. It was fun, both playing and working out a consensus on the rules as we went.